Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Playlist: Unreality Reality

This weekend, the Iowa Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inducted a few more of the lesser knowns that played a part in Iowa rock history.  Not that Paul McCartney needs another induction anywhere, he's the big name going into the Iowa Rock Fame, for his band managed to pack them in on the weekends at a small bar in Hamburg or Luxemburg.  A lot of bands and musicians were part of the big cover band scene in the 60s, 70s and so on. Mike Daughtery, Rich Webster (Dogs On Skis, solo artist who played The Vine in Iowa City), Don Bourrett (The Velaires) still rocking on drums at age 74, Bob Sarr (Pete Klint Quintet, Zephyr,  Patrick Hazel), Jan Kuehnemund (Vixen, yes that band that made a few albums for EMI in the 80s, the early parts of that band started up here in Iowa) are some of the folks and plenty more. 

The bands that made it in the Iowa Rock Fame will never be in the one in Cleveland and that's okay.  But we have a wide variety of bands.  Chase had a hit in 1971 with Get It On and made three albums for Epic before a plane crash took the life of Bill Chase and a few other members of the band.  Captain Beefhart And The Shipwrecks was an early 60s band that featured a George Clinton (no not that one), Sliver Laughter, Crystal Axe, Instant Blues Machine, Spectrum 70 and who can't  forget Oink Henderson And The Squealers?  The Gayla Ballroom, Independence's dance hall and where up and coming acts got their start is one of two places inducted into the all, the other Des Moines Veteran's Memorial  Auditorium.  Radio personality Maxwell Schaffer and Decorah's KDEC station.  Somehow, Bob Dorr, making a fifth attempt for a fifth spot in the Hall didn't make it this time.


Last month's ratings improved slightly last month thanks to the Swinging Steaks adding a link to the blog about them.  For the first time the first top five blogs all came from August with Talking To The Stars a distant second and the Hit Records Blog 3rd.  Even the singles going steady 18 Davenport Finds did quite well.  Look for more scratchy 45s blogs in the forthcoming future.

Glen Cornick passed away.  He was 67.  Best known for the bass player on the first three Jethro Tull albums and the Living In The Past collection.  Later did two albums with Bob Welch in the band called Paris; made two fair to meddling albums for Capitol.

Jimi Jamison, lead singer for Survivor and expert background singer on other's recordings (Omar And The Howlers) died Monday from a heart attack.  He was 63.  

The rains stayed away Sunday for the New Bo Festival and it was fun time watching Mirage do a tribute to Jean Luc Ponty in the afternoon.  They had a female violinist who was very good tackling a version of Eat That Question by Frank Zappa as well.  Hipknosis (they spelled it that way) I didn't make till I heard their end song of Let It Be.  The Leviathan String Ensemble, a group of students from Washington High School, did a half hour recital of songs.  At least they're playing real instruments and they were pretty good.  I didn't make it to Jim Post's performance either.  Later did my walk around downtown CR and part of Cedar Lake and came back to see the violinist from Mirage still talking to somebody in the evening shadows.

Reality shows suck but I do pay attention from time to time on a couple of them:  History Channel's Ice Road Truckers and VH1's tacky Dating Naked.  I tend to comment more on IRT on Twitter than Dating Naked, since the latter show is on nights that I work.  Ice Road Truckers if you look at it is an ho hum affair about truck drivers making hauls for either VP express or Polar Industries, going to remote places and going over frozen lakes and rivers.  Despite the good intentions of Alex Degraboski (typo) who chats live on Twitter or Facebook, the show has been a snoozer all season.  The only tension has been Darrell Ward walking out on Polar and starting up his own transport.  With bad background music and scary/hilarious animation of what would happen if the ice breaks on them, we do not see that happen. If something would happen like Darrell Ward falling into the lake on thin ice, you wouldn't see that.


Dating Naked on the other hand is a more radical version of Blind Date, but with a few more boys and girls in birthday suits jumping into hot tubs or pools or doing radical things although sometimes lust takes over and the lucky ones get a little.  Such in the case of Ashley Fonda and Alika Medeiros whose tongue hockey has gotten them down the aisle in a quickie marriage.  Which the whole world knows it's not going to last since you actually have to learn to live together and see all the good and bad in people and trying to keep it going despite the odds. In this day and age of shock value, there's no shortage of "shock reality", and another channel has Naked And Scared, to which two people spend a month on a remote island wearing nothing but a smile and trying to survive the elements and themselves.  Apparently, Jessie Nizewitz didn't read the fine print before signing on to Dating Naked about the show being filmed in the nude and is suing VH1 for 10 million since they showed her naughty bits during a wrestling scene, scaring off her Jewish boyfriend of one month and the internet forever immortalizing  her in a in-humanizing way, especially when you type her name on Google search and see the results.  That said, Dating Naked is lot like Blind Date but when you think about it, it's more mindless than that show.  Even with clothes off, the majority of the show you're trying to stay awake.  Kinda like Ice Truck Truckers, or Honey Boo Boo, or Pawn Stars, or.....

Diggy Kat, after leaving Radio Buzz'd now his own net radio station on Live 365 called Lucky Star Radio. I consider net radio to be a hobby of sorts but anybody that plays The Townedgers I will support them the best way that I can.  Lucky Star Radio is new rock and goth most of the time but once in a while they'll play an oldie or two. Home of Songs That Made An Impact Series:  http://www.live365.com/stations/luckystarradio

KOSY 95.7 is the new CHR station in this area.  As if anybody cares. WWHP, "the whip" in Farmer City has resorted to classic rock replacing the alternative blues and country they're famous for.  Yet another classic rot outlet to hear Glory Days once again. 

Link of the day: Despair. http://www.despair.com/

George Starosin takes on Blue Oyster Cult: http://only-solitaire.blogspot.com/2014/09/blue-oyster-cult-blue-oyster-cult.html 


TOTO-35th Anniversary: Live In Poland (Eagle)

A bit of turnover since this 2013 show, Simon Phillips left to do other things, replaced by Keith Carlock so I guess this serves as a farewell to Simon.  Toto can't get arrested in the US so they took their show to Poland in front of one of the most enthusiastic crowds in live music history, hell they're a metronome the way they clap in time to the music.  Despite the hits, Toto was very much of a progressive rock band themselves, with top notch musicians, Steve Lukather and David Paich with Steve Porcaro being the holdovers from Toto IV, and Joseph Williams from the mid 80s returning to lead vocals and doing a very good job although the bantering the crowd gets a bit too much for these ears, especially during the long jam on Africa.  Nathan East provides the bass and his long history proves that he belongs there too.    A very generous 2 CD 2 and a half hours of Toto might too much for the casual fan but they certainly picked a fine night to record the whole thing.  Of course most of the hits are there (99, Hold The Line, I'll Be Over You, Rosanna) but the lesser known numbers are just as good (Pamela, On The Run Medley) and of course to show their prog roots, Home Of The Brave with an over the top ending that could rival Emerson Lake and Palmer for total pomp and circumstance.  But don't laugh too hard, this is a fine show and you had to be there.  That's why there's a DVD of this out there.  With your name on it of course.
Grade B+

Elvin Bishop-Best Of: Tulsa Shuffle (Epic/Legacy)

Given his good ole boy aw shucks persona, Bishop can play the hell out of the guitar.  He's legendary for his time in Paul Butterfield's Blues Band till even he couldn't handle his boss' ever changing ways so he stuck out on his own and recorded three albums for Fillmore (later Epic). The original EB Group was a real motley crue, former Linn County lead singer/keyboardist Steve Miller (RIP) proved he was no Mickey Thomas, Miller's vocals more rough and tumble than the sweet highs of the future Starship leader. Joy Baker, good background vocalist, lead singer not so much and they were the better members. The harmonica player Applejack is the Albert Ayler of harmonica, and not in a good way.  But what dammed the group was that they had a very shaky rhythm section and perhaps the most ill suited and one of the worst drummers that I've heard in my years in John Chambers, ex Loading Zone box tapper.  This best of showcases the Fillmore/Epic years which means the hits are not here, you want the Mercury best of.  Most of the songs are either blues standards ruined by an out of time drummer, and when they do start to rock a bit harder on the remake of Don't Fight It (Feel It), the drummer can't keep a beat on that either without doing unnecessary cymbal crashes and gives a feeling of a bull in a china shop.  Only time things heat up is when Bishop takes over the vocals and shows a hint of what's to come when he signed up with Capricorn.  The sections taken from his Rock My Soul album are the highlights.  By then they got a more competent drummer (Bill Meeker).  Stealin' Watermelons would be one of Bishop's signature songs too.  While Tulsa Shuffle is not recommended, it is of some historical value, Bishop was the best vocalist out of the bunch and it's also a valuable document of the contributions of Steve Miller, a part of the Iowa hippie blues rock band Linn County, who made three albums for Mercury/Phillips. An acquired taste as well.  Liner notes to Tulsa Shuffle are worth reading as you try to get through 7 and a half minutes of So Good.  Which isn't.

Grade B-

Murray Attaway-In Thrall (DGC)

A record that went straight to the budget bins after release.  Attaway was the main songwriter of Guadalcanal Diary, a band that recorded four albums of varying degree for Elektra, before he disbanded the group and went solo.  He signed up with Geffen and they pulled all the stops out and signed up some big name session players for this album (Nicky Hopkins, the Mr. Mister drummer Pat Mostelleo (sic), Robby Blunt (Robert Plant, Steve Gibbons Band) Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, even Jackson Browne himself helps out. James Guthrie (Pink Floyd) mixed the whole thing and the uneven Tony Berg produced this.  Very ambitious record judging by the lineup but the thing didn't sell.  Geffen Records had this idea of just giving this away in a weird promotion scam (like they did with another artist, Rick Parker (Lions & Ghosts)). It didn't work, and Attaway was cut loose not too long after, and this record gave him a black eye about the music business to which we haven't heard much from Murray, although he has reformed Guadalcanal Diary.  In Thrall is really not bad, it starts out great with No Tears Tonight and Under Jets, which does sound like G. Diary.  Perhaps the weight of the guest stars added too much variety to the album,  Fall So Far, is vintage Nicky Hopkins on piano, but not characteristic of Guad Diary.   While the last two songs My Book and Home are Murray's most personal lyricwise, musically they tend to mender and brings the record down a melancholy end.   But for a ten cent CD In Thrall isn't a waste of time, it has enough songs to recommend and perhaps make it a keeper for the casual listener.  Murray Attaway was the alternative rock to the grunge that Geffen Records was promoting before that cash cow band's leader shot himself out of this world.  By then In Thrall was history too.  An overlooked failed mini classic.

Grade B+


Answer The Phone-Sugar Ray (S/T)
Maybe This Day-Kissing The Pink (Nude)
Rock And Roll Woman-Buffalo Springfield (Again)
Drivin' Blues-Frijid Pink (S/T)
Everytime I Look At You-Darryl Hall/John Oates (Abandoned Luncheonette)
Joe Perry Project-Life At A Glance (Let The Music Do The Talking)
Saturday Night-Eagles (Desperado)
Don't Let Him Know-Prism (Small Change)
Do You Read Me-Rory Gallagher (Calling Card)
How Long-Rick Nelson (Rick Sings Nelson)

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